LIHUE — Kauai High School’s Dodger Middlebrook found the net at the 70th minute to trigger frenzied cheering from the crowd bundled against the chilling winds Wednesday at the Vidinha Stadium.
Middlebrook’s shot in traffic at the goalmouth forced a 3-3 stalemate against Kapaa High School, who held a 3-1 lead at the break.
“This was the same as at Island School (Saturday),” said Kapaa boys soccer coach Kevin Cram. “We had a 1-0 lead at the half before losing 2-1. We dominate the first half, but come apart in the second half. We’re still a young team and we’re still trying to figure it out.”
Kapaa opened the game early when Gabe Franklin found the net in the third minute. Kauai, playing a loose style of soccer in the first half, scored an equalizer when Rhylen Yadao scored in the 11th minute for the 1-1 tie. But Kapaa responded five minutes later as Michael DeWitt netted a goal in the 16th minute, and the half closed with a strong Warrior showing when Joshua Layaoen netted a goal with seven minutes remaining in the opening half.
“Every game is a learning process,” said Kauai boys soccer coach Martin Steinhaus. “We use the first couple of games to figure out which players go in which positions. We had certain players playing in the first half that changed places in the second half.”
The adjustments did not appear to affect changes as both teams engaged in a defensive slugfest.
Yadao broke the ball exchanges in the 54th minute on a charge to the right side for his second goal of the day and 16 minutes later, Kauai drew level thanks to Middlebrook’s strike.
“As I said, this is a young team,” Cram said. “They haven’t developed well enough to play the same style for the entire game. They come out strong, and revert to the kick-and-run. We’ve made similar mistakes. The task is to get the boys to identify those mistakes. If they can identify the mistakes, they know what to correct.”
Despite the cheering from both sides of the stand, both teams could not break the stalemate before the final whistle blew.
“The boys get too excited,” Steinhaus said. “It was like this in the 1-1 tie against Waimea (Saturday). We missed too many one-on-one chances to score. But this is a learning process, and we take the first few games just to find the plays. Today, we just want team unity, and letting the boys play.”
Kauai next faces Island School on Saturday when the varsity girls kick off at 10 a.m. and the boys play at noon.
“This is a big game for us,” Steinhaus said. “We have two ties, and Island School boys beat Kapaa once. Do you know what happened at Hanapepe Stadium?”
The Menehune battled the Voyagers to a 1-1 tie resulting in the Voyagers gaining the lead in boys soccer.
Kapaa next hosts Waimea on Saturday at Vidinha Stadium with the junior varsity games staring at 10 a.m. and the varsity contests going from 1:30 p.m.